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Matt Renzi: The Cave

Dan McClenaghan By

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From reedman Matt Renzi's wanderlust comes The Cave, music inspired by a four-year period when the musician lived in Japan, New York, India, and Italy.

On this approachable trio effort, Renzi and company have crafted a sound that walks a line between the familar and the exotic, a music full of cool tones and wandering melodies. Renzi splits his time between tenor saxophone and clarinet, and the mood is often haunting, especially on the tenor tunes, his own having a searching quality, at times drifting over into the free side, but in a restrained way.

Renzi's trio with bassist David Ambrosio and drummer Russell Meissner has done a couple of tours of Italy and Japan, and the musicians display a consistently empathic equilibrium and gentle but insistent momentum through the entire set. Renzi's tone on tenor has a ringing clarity that gets hauntingly hoarse at times, especially on "In Circles." The set stays in the mid-tempo range with lots of dark tones, and at times one wishes for a tad more intensity, for the trio's low flame to flare up and roar a bit.

That it doesn't—take it on its own terms—means the listener can best appreciate The Cave by giving it his undivided attention. The closer, the thirteen-minute "Three Stories," a three part suite, is especially rewarding, by turns bright and eerie, threaded together with Japanese strands, influenced by the time Renzi has spent in Manhattan and Kyoto.


Track Listing: Poison Ivy; The Rice Shed; Stand Clear (of the closing doors); Stones for Sand; In Circles; Faces and Places; To the Cave; Three Stories.

Personnel: Matt Renzi: tenor saxophone, clarinet; David Ambrosio: bass; Russell Meissner: drums, percussion.

Title: The Cave | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Fresh Sound New Talent

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